Hello fellow bookworms! Well I think the title of this post pretty much sums it up… Most people have never encountered a year like this before. 2020 has been nothing like anyone could have predicted. There have been many things out of our control which has been incredibly scary. But while this year has been horrific due to the global health crisis, 2020 has also brought us many wonderful things that we may not have discovered if we were living our lives as normal. A lot of people started new hobbies, we reconnected with loved ones to check on how they were doing, we learnt how to use technology to our advantage to see people we couldn’t see in person. For me, I just stayed at home reading all the books (and went outside occasionally…) Seriously though, I hope everyone has stayed safe this year, and you and your families are healthy and as happy as possible in this holiday season. It’s definitely not the way we imagined the end of the year to be, but the most important thing is to be surrounded by the people you love, and who love you in return, whoever they may be.
My year in books has been really special and more important than ever. I used my plentiful reading time to escape the awfulness of the pandemic and explore some books which have been on my shelf forever, as well as reading some new releases which I’m really excited to share with you all. I’m doing my round-up slightly differently this year so I can really go into detail about the books I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy), and talk about them more with you (I read so many good books this year that I honestly couldn’t pick a top 5!) So without too much more dwelling on 2020, here’s a roundup of the best and worst books I read this year…
2020 BOOK STATS
Total books read: 51
Average rating: 3.9 stars
Total pages read: 14,527
Oldest book: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (1719)
Newest book: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Sept 2020)
Longest book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (777 pages)
Shortest book: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (132 pages)
New favourite author: Maureen Johnson
Prettiest book: Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan
MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2020
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
This was my first Schwab book and I immensely enjoyed it. I loved the short chapters, and got so invested in the characters. The way it jumped between two timelines was the perfect way to structure the story and the ending climax was so exciting. I did get about 100 pages into the sequel, Vengeful, but it was at a time when my reading moods were very low, so I couldn’t finish it but I might come back to it, and I’ll definitely be reading some more of V.E. Schwab’s writing!
The Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson
These books couldn’t have had more stuff in that I love if they tried! Set in a boarding school, an unsolved murder, mysterious happenings, smart people, gorgeous mountain setting, timeline flips, diverse characters, and the list goes on… and it turns out, we’re not done! The Hand on the Wall rounded off the series quite nicely, all puzzles resolved, but The Box in the Woods is my most anticipated release for 2021 so far, I cannot wait to read more in this series!
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Laura Purcell’s The Corset got the top spot on my favourites list last year, and here she is again. This is her debut novel and it’s exactly what I was expecting and so much more! Purcell is the only author I have come across who writes gothic/horror historical fiction in a way that is compelling enough to make me read it. This was definitely a lot scarier than The Corset but the way the story and characters are woven and every subtle moment is written with such powerful intent, it makes it feel so much more real. I’ll definitely be picking up Bone China very soon, and I have a proof copy of her upcoming book The Shape of Darkness, publishing in January. Whether you’re a gothic horror fan or not, I highly recommend her books!
This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
My non-fiction book of the year! I read this back when I was still commuting to work and got so many funny looks on the train from my sudden fits of laughter. There were tears too, but I honestly never expected what I got from this book. Who knew a medical memoir would be absolutely hilarious?! It was so refreshing to hear what it’s really like to be a junior doctor for the NHS, and to have those stories told with sarcasm, wit, and such honesty is what made this book really special.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I’d had this book on my shelf for so long, and I can’t quite remember what tipped me over the edge but I decided it was time to pick it up, and I was so glad I did! This book is so special, it was the ultimate escapism when I needed it most, and definitely one I will be reading again. You don’t come across books like The Night Circus very often; it’s one of those unique stories which is crafted with such care and attention to detail that you feel transported from wherever you’re sat to this magical place full of wonder that you truly believe exists. I want to have that feeling all the time. I basically want to be permanently reading this book.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This was my first Austen novel and it made me so excited to read more! I’ve never been a massive reader of classics because I found the writing a bit daunting but I read this along with the audiobook which really helped me focus on the story and made it easier to understand who all the different characters were and their positions and relationships with others. A classic romance with well known characters, it felt like a big warm hug! I’ve downloaded the audiobooks for Emma and Mansfield Park which I’m hoping to read along to as well at some point next year.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
It’s been so long since I’ve fallen in love with a character who I can call one of my fictional boyfriends… and I’m so glad to say The Flatshare did this for me. This story was fantastic! Tiffy was a very relatable character for me in some ways, and Leon was the most loveable character I’ve come across for a while. Another book which felt like hug from your favourite person, and I would happily go back for more. I will definitely be rereading this, and hoping to pick up some more of Beth O’Leary’s books in the future.
If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura
This was one of the last books I read in 2020 but definitely by no means least. I’d heard some really good things about this and I was not disappointed. It was so full of emotion and told the story of a young man’s last days with such sophistication it made me feel it was actually him standing in front of me and telling the story. While there is a story here, it is more about realising what the important things in modern life are and how we can live every day as if it is our last, not taking anything for granted. I cried. A lot.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of Piranesi, which I read back in March, and I boosted it up my TBR after a lot of my colleagues sped through it and gave it high praise. This book was so unique, the setting was the main thing that made it so special for me, and the unexpected turn of events at the end is worth sticking with the slightly confusing beginning, because everything makes sense in the end!
Toffee by Sarah Crossan
I read this in one day. It was such an easy book to speed through because of the verse-style of Crossan’s writing and the story was so heartwarming, it was exactly what I needed back in May and in the height of lockdown here in the UK. The many issues raised in this book were handled with such sensitivity that it moved me to tears. I am currently (at time of writing) reading Here is the Beehive, Crossan’s debut adult novel and I’m loving it so far!
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I listened to the audiobook of Becoming, and I love audiobooks narrated by their authors. It gives the book an extra special edge where you really get the emotion through. This book was so inspiring and motivating, and truly highlights how amazing women are. I loved the insights into Michelle’s life, her education and how she met Barack, and what life in the White House was like. Another book which made me cry a lot!
Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’d been hearing about this book for so long and I finally managed to get a copy through a book swap at work. It definitely lived up to expectations, the story was excellently crafted and I loved the way everything came together in the end. Quite a few tears with this one as well…
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
I picked this book up as a quick one to get through before starting The Reading Rush back in the summer. I flew through it and it was everything I love about YA literature, particularly the fact that is made me so incredibly emotional (I was in floods at one point!) I recommend the film as well.
MY LEAST FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2020
Normal People by Sally Rooney
There were aspects of this novel I enjoyed, and there were aspects that I did not, but I think I went into it with higher expectations than I should have. It’s won so many awards, it’s been highly praised by many, but this one just didn’t live up to the hype for me. Strangely enough, this was the only book I reviewed this year, you can read more about my thoughts here.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Another book I went into with high expectations. Three Women is a non fiction book which has had consistently high praise and there were parts which were interesting to read, but some parts were more difficult to get through, and I found it difficult to identify with the women who were making decisions I wouldn’t even dream of. Of course, the fact it was non fiction gave it a shock factor and I did sometimes feel for the people involved, but mostly I unfortunately saw an infuriating amount of poor judgement.
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
I’d had a copy of this book for so long, and working from home made me stare at my bookshelf a lot, so I rediscovered books I’d forgotten I owned. The Accident Season was very slow going for me. Although the premise was really interesting, the actual story was incredibly strange with a very weird ending. It’s the sort of book I would love to deconstruct and analyse as I think it would be really interesting to uncover more about the text itself, but reading it for enjoyment just wasn’t for me.
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
I did not willingly read this book… It was on my preliminary reading list to read before I started my uni course, and while I know it’s important to have a good understanding of the classics to be able to analyse more contemporary books, this is one I will not be revisiting. If a book says it’s influenced by Robinson Crusoe, I think that’s a firm sign for me to avoid…
2021 READING PLANS
I always love the start of a new reading year, a new Goodreads goal, and year full of new releases. I’m doing something this year that I’ve never done before, and setting myself a reading challenge. This is separate to my Goodreads goal, which is simply a number, and is a themed challenge to help me tackle some of the books that I’ve had sitting around for while. My 2020 reading challenge is…series!
I have so many first books of series which have been hanging around on my bookshelf since forever, so decided I would set myself a challenge to read some of them. Those series are…
📚 Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
📚 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
📚 Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
📚 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
📚 The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
📚 The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
📚 Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Goodreads Reading challenge goal: 40 books (aiming lower, hoping to exceed expectations)
Most anticipated 2021 releases
📚 The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell (release date: 21/01/21)
📚 Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (02/03/21)
📚 The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson (15/06/21)
So that was my 2020 year of books! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year, and here’s to a 2021 that is brimming with great books!
Happy New Year!
Until next year…